By Dave Andrusko
Planned Parenthood and its allies exacted another pound of flesh today when Karen Handel stepped down from her role as Komen for the Cure’s senior vice president for public policy and chief lobbyist. Pro-abortion blogs, which had demanded her resignation, simultaneously crowed and warned that while her ouster was “a step in the right direction,” according to Jodi Jacobson, “it’s not clear to me that they’ve really changed their policy.” Jacobson runs the blog RHRealityCheck.org which is zealously pro-abortion even by those standards.
“I resigned because it was clear that all of this had gotten to a point where … I was too much of a focal point,” Handel said in a Fox News interview. “I really felt I had a responsibility to step aside so they could refocus on their mission.” Handel charged Planned Parenthood with using “vicious attacks” and “coercion” to prevent Komen from setting its own standards,” according to Reuters.
Komen CEO and Founder Nancy Brinker said in a statement today, “I have known Karen for many years, and we both share a common commitment to our organization’s lifelong mission, which must always remain our sole focus. I wish her the best in future endeavors.” Brinker also wrote, “We have made mistakes,” adding, “We must learn from what we’ve done right, what we’ve done wrong and achieve our goal for the millions of women who rely on us.”
As NRL News Today reported, the storm was officially launched when a story was leaked to the Associated Press that Komen had adopted a policy that after 2012, breast health grants would not go to organizations that are under investigation by local, state, or federal authorities. Planned Parenthood cried “politics,” undertook a super-aggressive media strategy, and painted Komen as kowtowing to (or in cahoots with) “anti-choicers.”
In responding to a social media outcry, Brinker denied in interviews and in a You Tube video “the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.” At the same time Komen’s other emphasis was on how the change would increase efficiency and eliminate duplication of services, a stance it has not stepped back from.
As the orchestrated attacks increased in volume and intensity, Komen issued a very carefully worded statement that PPFA and many media outlets interpreted as a “retreat.” Brinker said, “Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”
Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms; they do breast screenings and referrals. And because Brinker has not taken back the medical justifications for its decision, militants such as Jacobson say they are keeping their powder dry.
Pro-abortionists insisted that Handel, who ran for governor of Georgia as a pro-lifer, was the primary force behind the change in “granting strategy,” a charge Handel flatly denied in a resignation letter she sent to Brinker.
While Handel wrote that “I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve,” she also said that “the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization.” Moreover, Komen’s decision “to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization.”
However, Handel added, “What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision – one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact – has unfortunately been turned into something about politics. This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly.”
Handel’s departure is being seen as a particularly stark reminder of the extraordinary power of social media and the sophistication of the pro-abortion messenging machine. While there are differences in details, what stands out is Komen’s absolute naiveté that anything that has an impact on Planned Parenthood would be judged on its merits.
If we are to believe the story by Keach Hagey published over the weekend by POLITICO, what happened to Komen is a reflection of the power of Twitter and Facebook which was “being credited with giving oxygen to a wildfire of protest that delivered profound, immediate political results in a way that would have been impossible just a few short years ago.”
However it was not as simple as an additional 10,000 new “friends” on PPFA’s Facebook page, or (according to a Twitter spokeswoman) that “Twitter users sent more than 1.3 million Tweets referencing Planned Parenthood, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and related terms and hashtags.” PPFA and its allies also used their friends in the traditional media to fan the flames.
As Matthew Balan of the Media Research Center explained, the networks drove the Komen/PPFA story, always with an air of wounded innocence (at best) or hostility. At the same time they ignored the battle between the Obama Administration and the Catholic Church over a Department of Health and Services’ regulation requiring Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization and contraceptives, ”Over the course of about 60 hours, ABC, CBS, and NBC emphasized the controversy with a whopping 13 morning and evening news stories. The soundbite count was loaded: 76 percent of the quotes came from supporters of Planned Parenthood (35 in total). Only 11 clips or statements came from Komen representatives or new allies.”
And that doesn’t even count blogs and journalists from various newspapers, wire services. Komen never knew what hit them.
There are many preliminary lessons to learn from PPFA and its allies’ war on Komen. Surely at the top is that we shouldn’t be surprised that an organization that kills for a living would have no qualms about going for the throat.
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